Deconstructing The Current Construction Of Mow: ‘Meaning Of Work’ – What Do We Really Mean

  • BB Puplampu
Keywords: Meaning of Work, Conceptual Paper


This paper sets out to examine some of the literature on the „Meaning of Work‟ (MOW) concept and demonstrate the apparent confusion in the use of MOW. It argues that MOW is at present not clearly defined. Based on a limited review of the extant literatures the paper suggests that conceptually and operationally, MOW must be kept distinct from the several constructs that have come to be used in close association with it. Examples of such constructs are „job involvement‟, „work values‟, „work ethics‟. It is argued that MOW could be conceived of as an abstract, but forcibly present belief or notion about work and its origin, which provides human beings with a backdrop for much of life‟s activities. It is also suggested that MOW should not be seen as a motivational concept, in that it may not be possible to predict work effort or behaviour directly from the articulated MOW of a person or group. The paper attempts a definition of the Meaning of Work and puts forward three propositions to guide future work. To date, the research efforts in the area of MOW have proceeded without a clear definition or theoretical base for the concept. This paper calls for debate on the ontological (the nature) and teleological (the purpose) base of the concept „work‟, its meaning in society and application in work psychology. Such debate would inform the MOW concept and help set it aside as distinct from other concepts.

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eISSN: 1117-1421